I always feel like such a sucky Christian on Christmas. Every year I say that I’ll “remember the true meaning of Christmas” but I soon discover that December 25 is mostly about pecan pie and ripping paper off of boxes & out of pretty bags. The day comes to a close and I find my hand holding again my same baby blue mechanical pencil, realizing the severe lack of Christ in my supposedly Christ-centered holiday.
Every family has their own Christmas traditions. For us, Christmas means Catholic church. This also, for some reason, means that tradition & ritual trumps personal relationships with God which also means that I have to bite my tongue for an hour.
The Priest gave a mini sermon on Christmas Eve entitled “The 5 Reasons We Should Celebrate Christ’s Birth.” The reasons were as lame as his sermon title was trite. The number one reason, the most important reason given was because of the amazingly selfless things that people do by motivation of the Christmas story.
No. That is not why we celebrate Christmas. This is not about people becoming nuns or missionaries or ascetics.
Christmas is the fulfillment of a promise. A promise made THOUSANDS of years before that first Christmas night. A promise that has literally been hanging over humanity since the dawn of time— that God would come to us.
We are lucky that we’ve only ever had to wait 364 days until Christmas. I think of the people who so eagerly awaited the fulfillment of that promise, who died with faith in their hearts that although they had not seen it come to pass, God would deliver. I think of the stories of Simeon & Ana would had served their entire lives in the temple of God, awaiting the arrival of the Promised One only to see the young boy Jesus & know— He is the salvation which God had prepared in the presence of all people.
We celebrate Christmas because without it there is no Easter. Without the lamb, there can be no sacrifice; without the Christ, there can be no salvation; without the promised birth, there can be no atoning death.
We celebrate Christmas not just because a baby was born in the most humble of circumstances but because this baby- the one prophesied of by prophets, hoped in by the hopeless, & promised by the Provider came to usher in a new age: a baby who would unite again man & God. A baby who would grow to be a man, who would then surrender himself to be a Savior.
That is love. That is hope. That is Christmas.